Definition Of Social Mobility

Social mobility is shifting from one social status to another, commonly to a status that is either higher or lower. For example, a child of day laborers who becomes a professor achieves upward social mobility. In sociology, social mobility explains changes (or lack thereof) in social status. Societies organized by social class, rather than caste, usually allow greater social mobility; in such societies, one’s ability to achieve a higher social status can depend on factors such as social connections, wealth, effort, and education. In meritocracies, social status depends on merit. Gender and race can limit upward social mobility, and many sociologists believe social mobility depends more on social structures — such as the opportunities offered to different groups of people — rather than individual efforts.